|By Guest Blogger ~ September 17th, 2012 ~ Guest Blogger||3 Comments|
Guest Post by Sandy Malone, Weddings in Vieques
Planning a wedding on a budget isn’t rocket science. It requires discipline and some hard decision-making, but if you have your priorities in order going into it, you’ll find that you can craft an event to suit just about any budget if you start with a REALISTIC budget goal and choose your largest and most important items first.
I try to have every client plan their wedding with me in a specific order so they know how much the important stuff in going to cost, giving them a realistic idea of their spending before they make decisions about the little stuff that’s really optional.
Here are the 10 steps to budgeting your wedding, in the order you need to make those financial commitments:
1. Hire a wedding planner – Probably the smartest move you can make from Day One. A big benefit of using a local planner at your destination (like me on Vieques or Culebra islands) is that you get all sorts of unexpected discounts. For example, many of the villas I prefer to offer my clients will drop the event fee (or lower it significantly) for my clients. You’re always sure to get better deals working with a local then trying to cold-call all the vendors yourselves.
2. Choose a venue – This is a big number for couples who want a fancy, modern South Beachy chic waterfront villa for their wedding. Depending on the selection you make, this can be a chunk of your budget. You always have the option of a small boutique hotel or restaurant venue, or even a beach reception if the villa route is too financially intimidating. But whatever you’re going to do, make this decision first as it will impact all your other planning decisions.
3. Choose all the food and beverages for your reception, including your cake – This stuff isn’t optional. You have to feed and water your guests. Your catering options are limited only by the venue you have selected and in most cases, the venue doesn’t care how much you spend. It’s up to you to choose a menu that works within the confines of your budget.
4. Entertainment – Whether you want a different genre of music for cocktails (a jazz duo, or an acoustic guitar trio playing Puerto Rican love songs maybe?), and a DJ or a band for the remainder, these are numbers you can plug into your budget early. As a general rule, a band is a least twice as expensive as a DJ. If live music is important to you, you should account for it in your budget early.
5. Photography/Videography – What you spend on photography and videography can be a vast spread, from $1,000 to $5,000 or more, depending on whether you’re importing your photographer from someplace other than where you’re getting married. It’s usually a significant number and it’s something that you have to have.
6. Catering for other events (beach parties, rehearsal dinner and last, welcome party) – Welcome parties, farewell brunches, day of luncheons and other such events are all optional and arbitrary – if you can afford to do them, that’s great! But your weekend won’t necessarily be less sensational without those additional bells and whistles. Lots of my clients schedule “welcome gatherings” rather than parties, meaning that they’re all meeting up at a bar or restaurant BUT this event is not on the bride and groom’s tab.
7. Rentals and Décor/Setup and Teardown Fees – Some of these items are dictated by the venue that you choose. For example, you may have to have tents at certain venues because there isn’t enough indoor space for all of your guests if the weather turns bad. How much decorating you decide to do will determine how much your setup and teardown fees will run you – what goes up must come down, and must be cleaned up the morning after your wedding.
8. Flowers – You predetermine your fate with the size of your wedding party, to some degree. If you have five bridesmaids, you’re going to need six bouquets (including you), mom flowers, flower girl flowers and maybe some stuff for the guys. Centerpieces using candles and vases are a lot less expensive than flowers, and there are ways to use small amount of flowers that won’t totally bust your budget (blossoms tied to napkins, etc.).
9. Beauty appointments – if you’re not bringing your own hairdresser, it’s worth the investment to have somebody who knows which products to use do your hair and makeup so you don’t turn into a big slimy frizzball during your wedding ceremony (yep, it happens). You don’t necessarily have to treat your whole wedding party for beauty appointments if you let them know they have the option to book them, but whatever you’re obligating yourself to should be put into your master budget spreadsheet.
10. Gratuities – most of us have worked in the service industry at some point and few of us want to screw the service staff, but sometimes it’s hard to swallow a big number when everything else has already been planned. Before you start spending the “extra” money on welcome bag goodies, reception favors, and other stuff you could live without, make sure you’ve set aside whatever your planner tells you is standard and customary for the area where you’re getting married.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a Caribbean destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island. A former Wall Street Journal reporter and public affairs expert, Sandy has executed more than 400 destination weddings on Vieques and Culebra islands, and writes a wedding planning column for the Huffington Post.